Runners are the first people you think of when it comes to a potential foot injury. The high impact and repetitiveness of the activity put them at risk for certain foot-related injuries and conditions. Though runners are at a higher risk for injury, many people suffer from foot pain. Luckily, there are things you can do to help prevent injuries. From certain stretches and exercises to make simple lifestyle changes, the tips we will discuss can help those concerned about foot injuries.
Avoid Doing Too Much at Once
One of the most common causes of foot pain is doing too much at once. If you are not a regular runner and start running several miles at a time, your feet may swell or get tense due to not being conditioned, leading to injury. It takes your body time to get used to certain activities, and if you surprise it, it will let you know it needs rest. This can show up as pain, soreness, or even torn ligaments. Instead of jumping into it, try taking it slow to give your body time to be conditioned. Add a mile or so a week and your feet should be able to take the steady incline of activity.
Warming up is one of the most important things you can do before running or working out. We encourage patients to combine both static and dynamic stretches before exercising. Dynamic stretches apply your muscles to their full range of motion and involve movement while stretching. Static stretches are when you pause and hold the stretch in the position for an extended time. You can learn more about both dynamic and static stretches in this blog here.
Know What Shoes Work for Your Foot and Activity
Wearing the right shoe can make all the difference in preventing foot pain. Even when you aren’t working out, it’s important to try and wear shoes that are comfortable and support the type of foot you have. Knowing if you have an arched or flat foot can help when picking a shoe that works for you. This is also called knowing your pronation, or how your foot lands when you walk or run. Overpronating or subpronating puts more stress on your foot.
If you are not quite sure of your pronation, you can consult your orthopedic foot doctor or an athletic shoe expert. It is also important to consider getting an orthopedic shoe made specifically for you! We have more information about orthopedic shoes here.
Strength Training for Foot and Ankle
Strengthening the muscles in your feet and legs can help to prevent and relieve some pain in the foot. It is encouraged to consult a physical therapist on specific exercises that will help relieve pain depending on where the pain is in your foot. Try a few of these exercises at home and see if your foot pain subsides.
- Raising, Pointing, and Curling Toes.
- For each exercise hold for 5 seconds then release. Repeat 10 times.
- Big Toe Stretch
Pull your big toe forwards and backward, holding for 5 seconds at the top of the stretch. This will help when arch pain from wearing tight shoes.
- Golf / Tennis Ball Roll
- Find a ball around the size of a golf or tennis ball. Place the ball on the floor and begin rolling your foot back and forth on top of the bath to relieve tension.
- Achilles Tendon Stretch
- Face a wall and place hands flat on the wall in front of you
- Keeping both heels flat on the floor, move one foot back, keeping the knee straight. Then, bend the knee of the opposite leg.
- Push your hips forwards until you feel the stretch in your Achilles tendon and calf muscle.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each leg.
What to Do If You Are Experiencing Foot Pain
We suggest resting the injury, icing, and using anti-inflammatories to see if the pain subsides. If the pain continues, it is important to not wait until the pain is severe to see a doctor. The sooner you can see a foot doctor, the less chance you have of needing more invasive procedures like surgery. If you think you have broken a bone in your foot, seeing a doctor for X-rays as soon as possible is key. From there, your doctor will be able to tell you the next steps in your treatment. If you think you may have torn a ligament, an MRI may be necessary to determine the best possible road to recovery.
After you have seen your foot surgeon, they will prescribe the least invasive procedures before jumping to surgery. Physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, or shots are common less-invasive treatments. If these treatments fail to relieve the pain, your foot doctor will determine if surgery may be right for you.
Think you need to see a foot doctor? You can schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic foot specialists here or call our office at 615.324.1600.